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On her chart-topping new album Reflections: Scott Joplin Reconsidered, iconoclastic pianist Lara Downes examines Scott Joplin’s music through a 21st-century lens, revealing its subtle nuances to retell the fascinating and complex story of an innovator who helped define the sound of the American 20th century.
Lara is joined by author and cultural commentator John McWhorter (who’s also an amateur pianist and Joplin fanatic!) for an intimate evening of music and conversation about Joplin’s New York, a century of progress, and the contradictions that shape our American life.
Among the compositions to be highlighted are Joplin’s opera Treemonisha, his “Syncopated Novelty” Euphonic Sounds, and several of his beloved piano rags, including the Heliotrope Rag, Gladiolus Rag, and Magnetic Rag. WQXR and New Standards’ Paul Cavalconte, hosts.
Reflecting upon her project to reconsider and recontextualize Joplin from a contemporary vantage point, Ms. Downes said to The New York Times:
“I really want to liberate [Joplin] from the two categories where people have tried to fit him: “king of ragtime” or “greatest classical composer you’ve never heard of.” I want to be super clear that I see him as an American innovator and cross-pollinator, and that the central truth in his music is that everything exists together and is there for the finding.”